There have been a lot of opinions against the early rounds of the WNBA playoffs being single elimination. On Thursday, there was another example of the same. Phoenix Mercury, the 5th-seeded team, beat 8th-seeded New York Liberty 83-82 in a game that could have gone either way.
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Sami Whitcomb, of Liberty, fouled Brianna Turner of Mercury when there were only 0.4 seconds left on the clock. The scores were level at 82. Turner missed the first free throw but scored the second. Then, Sabrina Ionescu, of Liberty, failed to score a 3-pointer at the last second. And Mercury was through the first round of the WNBA playoffs.
Even though Liberty had the worst WNBA postseason winning percentage, they put up a spirited display in their WNBA playoff match on Thursday. However, Sophie Cunningham, the guard for Mercury, was a completely different beast during the 3rd quarter. She went six-for-7 from the deep. She also scored 21 points, the highest in her career. 12 of the 21 came in the 3rd quarter.
Skylar Diggins-Smith was the highest scorer for Mercury with 22. On the other side, Betnijah Laney scored 25 points, the highest in her career in the WNBA playoffs. Ionescu helped with 11 assists and 14 points.
When halftime came, Liberty was leading 41-37. Diana Taurasi, the star of Mercury, had suffered an injured ankle. It is unknown if she can play in the following round as well.
Mercury has been a WNBA champion 3 times, making the WNBA playoffs a total of 16 times in the 25 years since it had been formed. Mercury’s next opponent will be the 4th-seeded Seattle Storm. The other game in the second round will be between Chicago Sky and Minnesota Lynx.